Cheap offers for nothing if you don't have a new passport – Taking out new documents has doomed the tourist pre-season

Beach in Sivota, Greece/ photo: Dragan Mitreski

Citizens give up cheap vacations from the end of May and the beginning of June, especially to Greece, because they don't have new passports, which, as things stand now, are waiting even after two months. Although all countries in the region, except for our southern neighbor, allow entry with an ID card, tourism workers say that there is less interest in vacationing in Albania or Montenegro.

With last-minute cheap offers, domestic agencies are trying to save at least part of the tourist pre-season, which starts this long weekend. Citizens give up cheap vacations from the end of May and the beginning of June, especially to Greece, because they don't have new passports, which, as things stand now, are waiting even after two months.

The most affected for this period are pensioners, who used the cheap arrangements during this period, who are now "blindly" reserving a place for September, because the realization of their plans depends on receiving the new documents. Although all countries in the region, except for our southern neighbor, allow entry with an ID card, tourism workers say that there is less interest in vacationing in Albania or Montenegro. Over the years, Croatia has been profiled as an expensive and luxurious destination, which is not for everyone's pocket.

The "Sloboden Pechat" agencies brief that the trips for the three long weekends - for March 8, the May Day and Easter holidays - went disastrously badly, so for June they are going for the last ticket - maximum discounts at the last minute. Thousands of citizens cannot travel outside the country after February 12, because they have not changed their personal documents, i.e. passports and ID cards with the new constitutional name.

– The May Day and Easter tours almost did not take place, and now the first pre-season arrangements for Greece are also empty. People are outraged and we are losing money on pre-booked apartments. The southern neighbor does not accept us without new passports, and there are few such citizens. Pensioners in particular cannot spend their vacations cheaper - they say in a Skopje agency.

Jakim Malenko from the Ohrid agency "Vispoj" reveals to our newspaper that things are slowly settling down, but June will be weak, not only because of the passport problem, but also because of bad weather conditions.

- June is traditionally a bit weaker, so the interest shifts to August and September, but then the arrangements are much more expensive. Surrounding countries such as Albania and Montenegro also allow entry with an ID card, but interest is far weaker. Especially Albania, for which more and more people are interested over the years, even though that destination is no longer as cheap as before. However, the citizens are used to Greece, it is close and offers very favorable conditions for vacationing - adds Malenko for "Sloboden Pechat".

This period has many promotional arrangements and offers for early bookings for summer holidays which are conditional on paying a non-refundable deposit.

- Influenced by the never-ending uncertainty, travelers are unwilling to risk paying an arrangement and not being able to travel due to the passport situation. It is a direct blow to the number of reservations in this period, which has decreased compared to last year. As a result, the passengers themselves are at a loss, missing out on solid offers, which in July, August or September are higher than 30 to 50 percent - they add in another Skopje agency.

According to Doncho Natsev from "Arbo Travel", tourism is facing a crisis in operations for the second time in less than four years.

- We just hoped that we got out of the losses incurred during the crisis due to covid-19 and the opportunity to fight the competition opened up for us, now we are faced with a new one, which the state made for us by changing the travel documents and license plates with the new one name of the state - said Nacev recently.

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